Biogenesis are back with their likely long-awaited third album and bring a mature blend of different metal styles together to form their “hybrid metal” which has elements of melodic to thrash to progressive to death metal mixed together.
Fans of Biogenesis have had to manage through many ups and downs over the 16 years since the band’s debut The Mark Bleed Through. To many, that album was one of the great releases of the day but unfortunately, following band turnover and lack of general progress the band disbanded only to reunite the original lineup in 2009 and eventually release The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth in 2012. The band once again disbanded only to reform in 2015 when singer Chaz Bond brought original guitarist James Riggs back and added Sam, Luke, Dan, and Majennica Nealeigh to fill out the rest of the band and record A Decadence Divine.
Being new to Biogenesis, I am immediately struck by the variety of elements incorporated into the various songs, to the point where many seem as if they could be from different albums. Length of the songs is another aspect where Biogenesis doesn’t scrimp as the album is 11 tracks and nearly 70 minutes in length, so with a couple four minute songs thrown in, one can see the majority are much longer. To me, much of the album reminds me a lot of Mortification’s 18 minute long Envision Evangelene (in 8 parts), and having a history on Rowe Productions may have played a role in the overall sound as there are bits and pieces scattered throughout the album that remind me of old Mortification, right down to song structure and Chaz Bond’s vocal delivery. That being said, this is not a Moritification album so don’t expect that but one can pick out the various elements.
Prelude (Nocturnal Images) opens up the album with some mournful piano and deep, nearly gothic clean vocals, the first of many vocal styles handled exceptionally well by Chaz Bond. The song eventually picks up steam with a driving rhythm and some interesting bass lines clearly audible in the mix. Gone are the clean vocals and taking their place are some nearly ragged shouted lines for a bit that shift back into the clean vocals from the beginning. The various instruments take over the mix from time to time and overall the production is very clean, perhaps a bit too clean for my liking as the guitars and drums seem to lack a bit of bite. Overall, the song is an interesting listen nonetheless as it shifts between piano and guitars, from clean to metal.
The title track “A Decadence Divine” starts out completely different with a fast guitar riff accented by keyboards before settling into a very fast rhythm carried along pounding drums. Dark tone spoken word vocals start out the verses before shifting into a regular clean metal style. Just when you think you know where the song is headed, it shifts and changes things up and again there are the sections where keyboards take over from the guitars but it is done in such a way that it seems natural. Here we see a section of solos with guitars and keyboards trading off parts. I will have to say that being a fan of Deep Purple and the like, I’m not a big fan of the keyboard tone here but that’s just my preference.
By now it’s clear that there is a strong progressive influence in the songwriting as there are so many seemingly dissonant sections that end up crafted together in many of the songs, especially the one longer than seven minutes, “Lines in the Sand”, “The Pain You Left Behind”, “Tears of God”, “In the Darkness I Dwell”, and “Brood of Vipers”. Contrasting with those is “Bet Your Soul”, a song about the devil rolling dice with an atheist. The clean guitar intro quickly gives way to some heavy chords that are offset by piano and later the keyboards again play a major role in the sound as the guitars and galloping double bass drive the song along. The verses are barked out by Bond who manages another vocal style or two in the song. Add in some cool guitar fills and even a bass fill and a great fast riff, and you’ve got another good song.
The first single from the album, “The Pain You Left Behind” does highlight many of the different aspects of songs on the album and does serve as a good introduction. Piano and vocals reminiscent of Geoff Tate (Queensryche) start out the seven minute long track. In many ways this song does remind me a bit of something off Operation: Mindcrime. The song itself focuses on suicide and the pain left behind for those who lost a loved one and in that sense is actually a bit darker than the overall tone of the music. While the music seems a bit hopeful, the vocals both those by Bond and the gang vocals are darker and convey the emotion inherent in the situation.
The one cover track on the album “Land of Confusion” originally by Genesis, just doesn’t work for me but then again I have an intense hatred for the track in general having been traumatized by seeing it dominate MTV when I was growing up, so I can’t really objectively comment. If you didn’t have to see that video show up every 10 minutes or so for months on end you may have a different opinion and you can listen to the track on your own.
Perhaps fittingly the album closes with the longest track “Brood of Vipers”. An ominous bass line accompanied by pounding bass drum and some cool fills as the guitars slowly build into a fast riff punctuated by the double bass and accented by keyboards. The bass guitar presence throughout the track is appreciated as is the extended guitar work until the song fades out. A suitably long and complex song to bring the album to a fitting end.
Written by John Jackson
1. Prelude (Nocturnal Images)
2. A Decadence Divine
3. Inside the Beast
4. Bet Your Soul
5. As Empires Fall
6. Lines in the Sand
7. The Pain You Left Behind
8. Tears of God
9. Land of Confusion
10. In the Darkness I Dwell
11. Brood of Vipers
12. Silence (CD Only bonus track)
Chaz Bond – Vocals
James Riggs – Rhythm Guitar
Sam Nealeigh – Keyboard
Luke Nealeigh – Lead Guitar
Dan Nealeigh – Bass
Majennica Nealeigh – Drums
“The Mark Bleeds Through” (2001)
“The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth” (2012) [review]
“A Decadence Divine” (2017)
Record Label: Roxx Records, May 2017
Lyric video for ‘The Pain You Left Behind’